Donald Ruetz felt as if his dreams had come true. He’d met Cynthia, the woman who was his perfect mate. They’d married and then had two sons, Jack and Justin. He decided to retire two years early as Police Captain of Culver City in Southern California after serving on the force for thirty-two years. He and his family moved to Flamingo Beach in Costa Rica and started their new lives together. Life was blissful in Paradise. And then the unthinkable happened. Donald’s wife and two sons perished, along with a friend and his son, when the plane in which they were flying plunged into the ocean near Catalina Island.
This is where Donald’s memoir, “Remember Me: A Father’s Story of Tragedy Turned into Triumph in Costa Rica”” opens. Ruetz becomes despondent, in shock, shortly after the incident that leaves him completely alone in Costa Rica. In fact, he comes very close to ending his own life. One cannot imagine the degree of loss, of despondence and even guilt at such a loss unless it is experienced first hand. But Don does a very good job describing this and the motivation he has to continue.
Eventually, Don completes a Yoga center that Cynthia had been developing and dedicates the building to her. He completes a skate park that he dedicates to his sons’ friend and his dad, who also died in the crash. And he dedicates an indoor basketball court at his gym to his two sons whose lives ended so early.
Don found strength and courage by turning to a spiritual path. He began hearing voices and having visitations from his sons and wife the Other Side. He felt conflict between Don, the “just the facts” policeman and the new Don, looking for answers. He consulted a medium and found answers that truly satisfied him and is now able to perceive the messages from the Spirit. He knows that he has been given a goal and is being helped by his departed loved ones.
I don’t think it is necessary to believe in communicating with deceased relatives to read this book. It is truly a story about healthy grieving, about faith and perseverance, and most importantly about the power of love. Certainly, it was a cathartic exercise for Don to write this book. It is also Don reaching out in an effort to help others with their loss. He told me that he also wrote the book to keep the memory of his family alive.
The third reason Don wrote the book was to benefit La Paz Community School in Playa Flamingo, which he has been a part of since its inception. All proceeds go to La Paz. The book is now available in English as well as Spanish “Recuerdame: La Historia de un Padre que convirtio la Tragedia en Truinfo en Costa Rica” and can be viewed at www.remembermethebook.com. It is also available at Jaime Peligro book store in Playa Tamarindo and Quepos.